Heavens, that might have inconvenienced the people who wanted to kill him. “Minister not given bullet-proof car,” by Omer Farooq Khan for the Times News Network, March 3:
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani government minister Shabhaz Bhatti was deprived of the facilities that most ministers enjoy, like privileges of bullet-proof vehicles and high-walled houses in Islamabad’s Ministers Enclave.
He had been living under a death fatwa since December.
According to his family and friends, Bhatti had several times told president Asif Ali Zardari and PM Yousuf Raza Gilani about the threats to his life. Durrani insisted there was no security lapse as police escorts were provided to the minister, which he was not using. “The squad officer told me that the minister had instructed him to wait for him at his office. He used to often visit his mother’s house without a squad,” he said.
Bhatti founded the Christian-inspired All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) movement, aiming to bring oppressed minorities into mainstream politics.
One of his first battles was against the law on blasphemy, introduced in 1986 by military dictator general Zia ul Haq and used mostly against religious minorities.
“I will propose legislative reforms for the promotion and protection of minorities’ rights,” the Catholic leader recently said. About 1.5% of Pakistan’s 185 million people are Christians. Pakistan’s blasphemy law has been in the media glare since a Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, was sentenced to death by a court last November on blasphemy charges. The fanatical supporters of blasphemy law eliminated governor Taseer who sought presidential pardon for Aasia and proposed changes in the draconian law.
Far from supporting Taseer or Bhatti’s cause regarding changes in the blasphemy law, the crumbling ruling secular PPP government succumbed to demands of religious groups and repeatedly said it will not reform the blasphemy law.
The country’s interior minister Rehman Malik went to the extent of saying he too would shoot anyone who commits blasphemy.